29 Oct 2018

Cycling: Southlander wins Tour of Southland stage for first time in five years

4:40 pm on 29 October 2018

Southland rider Matt Zenovich has won a three way sprint finish up Lumsden's main street to win the the first stage of the Tour of Southland and claim the tour leader's yellow jersey.

Zenovich headed off Australian Oliver Martin and American Kevin Girkins to win the 170km stage from Invercargill.

It's the first time a Southlander has won a stage in the race since Zenovich won in Te Anau in 2013, and the first time a Southlander has worn yellow since Cam Karwowski the same year.

A Southlander hasn't won the tour since Doug Bath managed the feat in 1994.

Matt Zenovich has won the opening stage of the Tour of Southland.

Matt Zenovich has won the opening stage of the Tour of Southland. Photo: Supplied: Tour of Southland

"I know it's a long straight from that last corner and it looks a lot shorter than it actually is. I've been trying to win this stage for four years and I always manage to muck it up. I just waited, I was patient and I managed to pull it off," said Zenovich.

"I said before the stage yesterday that it was time for another Southlander to win a stage and I'm stoked it's me, which is a bit selfish. Wearing yellow is like the icing on the cake, it just makes it that much sweeter."

Zenovich was part of a four-man breakaway which had grown to a dozen by Nightcaps and included fellow Southlanders Corbin Strong and Josh Haggerty, with a lead approaching six minutes.

Efforts by the peloton to shut down the attack were hampered when they took a wrong turn after Nightcaps.

Zenovich holds a slim 6sec lead over Martin, with Girkins 22sec in arrears.

Tomorrow's stage takes the riders 150km from Riverton along the southern coast, and takes in the Blackmount hill climb before finishing on the Te Anau lakefront about 2pm.